Viviamo Summer School: Day 5 – The Art of Living (Practical Work: The need for beauty in living environments)

  9am “Beauty is to enthuse us for work, and work is to raise us up.” (Cyprian Norvid)

The theme of ‘Art of Living’ became a true living experience through the morning practical work. Working together had its special excitement. This experience, even though it will last for a few hours, embodies a few aspects that we discussed during the previous days. Working on a green area, raking and liming the trees gave us the common experience of changing our contemporary environment, to make it better and to help the beauty of the nature live between the two busy lanes of Dambul Pietros Street.


 A good and efficient work includes a well-organized plan, a few helping supervisors, the ability of collaboration and the joy of resting after doing our best. Beside all these aspects, in which we were successful, the most important one was that of the appreciation of the dignity of work. The physical experience of making this little piece of our living environment clean, healthy and well-organized gave a visible meaning of living our intrinsic dignity: work, contemplation, solidarity, self-gift and joy.


Beauty asks for expression. Beauty asks for change. Beauty is a call.


Helping it out from the environment, beauty shows itself.  With our work and effort we have the possibility to change our physical and social environment.  The good work should be done with responsibility, showing respect towards the environment on which we are working. The project, whether considering the physical or social environment of the human being, demands good ideas, well-organized plans and a working schedule. But to serve the common good, one more thing is needed, maybe the most important one, the driver of all the other conditions: self-gift. Before listening to Father Matthieu`s presentation on the importance of self-gift in his vocation, the present and the future agents of cultural change had the possibility to exercise their capacity for self-gift by working on their living environment.


12pm Tired and hungry, but happy with the morning’s work, we arrived back at the Youth centre for lunch and a rest.


“…and that complete human fulfillment only comes about when we make a sincere gift of ourselves to others. The family is the privileged setting where every person learns to give and receive love. “


Pope Benedict XVI


3pm We are fortunate enough to have a guest speaker who deeply understands the concepts and application of good work. Our lecturer of the afternoon, Father Matthieu, is a Catholic priest and monk in the community of St. John in their new house near Bucharest in Romania. In relation to the ways in which we can serve the beauty and the common good through exercising these values in our social environment, Father Matthieu gave us a highly motivating lecture. 


”C’est une ilusion de croire, qu’il y a une alternative à la famille.”


First of all, his presentation on family showed us the inevitable link between family, self-gift and a free and just society. A family is based primarily on the vocation, love, responsibility, respect, freedom and self-gift of the husband and the wife. We understood that at the building of a family stands or should stand on the basis of a vocation. Many young people have a great desire for give of themselves. This self-gift is one of sustains family. Father Matthieu believes that in the European culture the biggest danger comes from a lack of self-gift.  


The father used the example of the streets of Bucharest where you can see homeless children who have no possibilities to work and/or haven’t discovered the dignity of work. As it is possible to survive by begging, stealing, prostituting themselves, searching for food in the rubbish bins; why should they look for a job, if no one has made them sensitive to the dignity of work?


 â€C’est l’amour de la verité, qui mobilise mon intelligence, qui (la verité) fait appelle à mon  intelligence.”

With his clear sentences, Father Matthieu taught us a lot.   “To love the truth”, he said, “we have to be able to love truly.” Besides all the valuable concepts of self-gift, family and a just society, his teaching of love impressed us highly and considering all the intellectual and spiritual values that we gained from his presence, we can conclude that Father Matthieu’s company for two days was an honour for us.